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Cash boost into Vale rural projects

More than £220,000 has been injected into projects that support businesses and community organisations in Vale of White Horse.

Drawn from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF), a scheme for rural businesses and organisations as part of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda, the district council has allocated funding for a number of projects across the district, giving local organisations a much-needed boost.

Ultra-low and zero emission business Velocity Cycle Couriers has been awarded funding to carry out its OxFarm to Fork project, enabling short food supply chains between Vale of White Horse based farmers and Oxford University colleges.

Jake Swinhoe, Director of Velocity Cycle Couriers, said: “As the sustainable logistics partner for OxFarmtoFork, Oxfordshire’s innovative short food supply chain initiative, we were thrilled to receive an REPF grant to create direct routes from local growers to local buyers.

“The funding we received will increase the productivity and yield of Blacklands Organics, a Vale of White Horse farm and a key contributor of organic vegetables now finding their way from fields in the Vale to the kitchens of Oxford colleges.

“The funding will also enable us to maintain the freshness and quality of the produce by installing a chiller room at Velocity HQ, where we transfer vegetables and salads from fully electric vans to electric cargo bikes for speedy, sustainable delivery directly to chefs in the college kitchens.”

UK Shared Prosperity Fund projects benefitting from funding include:

  • the council’s Ride Revolution scheme which collects, refurbishes and redistributes unused bicycles to the local community, providing accompanying equipment, rider competence and bike maintenance training.
  • community interest company MakeSpace to develop a community led arts project in Abingdon. The project has delivered more than 60 workshops, ranging from upcycling and dance sessions to community exhibitions and mural painting.

While the council is finalising a range of plans for this year’s allocation of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, we have further funding to award through the next round of the Rural England Prosperity Fund, a scheme for rural businesses and organisations.

Example projects that could be supported include sustainability infrastructure, the creation and expansion of rural leisure and tourism businesses, and purchase of equipment to support rural and community owned businesses.

Councillor Neil Fawcett, Vale of White Horse District Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “Projects such as the Ride Revolution scheme and the MakeSpace arts sessions in Abingdon are excellent examples of the good work the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is being put to locally – bringing a whole host of benefits to our communities.

“Our rural businesses often face very specific challenges. As demonstrated with these successful projects, such as OxFarmtoFork, these grant schemes are actively helping rural business and organisations to grow and develop. In turn, this will have the knock-on effect of increasing prosperity across our rural communities.

“The Rural England Prosperity Fund is important in helping us deliver on our priorities – as well as improving community and economic wellbeing. Those looking to reduce carbon emissions are prioritised, so this also contributes to our action on the climate emergency.

“Our next round of funding opens this week, and I would urge any rural businesses and organisations in Vale of White Horse to have a look online and apply as soon as possible if they are eligible.”

The next round for applications has now opened and organisations can apply for the scheme via the council’s website.